Chairman of Marathon Insurance Brokers (MIB), Richard Burgher, is demanding answers from the Government as to why Petrojam turned down a tender offer by to provide insurance services for its workers, but awarded the contract to a competitor even though MBI's proposal was $420 million cheaper.
“I am not saying I won this tender, but I am saying I could provide it for $400 million less over the two years than they have paid the incumbent broker and that is public funds. It requires an explanation and it looks and smells and walks like corruption,” charged Burgher, who said he was perplexed by the developments.
Burgher told The Gleaner yesterday that the situation became even more curious after Petrojam allegedly disregarded a directive from then Contractor General Dirk Harrison not to award the contract pending an investigation.
However, a well-placed Government source has indicated that, after voiding the tender process involving MBI, Petrojam had to make provision for insurance services to its workers and, as a consequence, the contract of the existing insurance provider was extended.
The Gleaner obtained a letter written by Ronique Budram-Ford, head of Procurement Unit at Petrojam, to Keisha Burgher of Marathon Insurance Brokers, dated June 29, 2017. Titled “Re: Provision of Insurance Broking Service – Petrojam Limited 2017 – 2020. The letter stated: ‘We wish to thank you for your detailed proposal in response to Petrojam’s request regarding the captioned tender. However, we have decided to annul the exercise.”
Budram-Ford further said: “We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and hope that you will maintain interest in our business”.
Marathon submitted its tender for the contract on January 12, 2017 at 3 p.m.
Burgher argued that a tender is guided by certain processes, noting that “once you put out a tender and it is evaluated by the actuary and a recommendation goes to the board (of Petrojam). That recommendation is also copied to the Ministry of Finance Procurement Division. You must now have reason not to act on the actuary’s recommendation and one way you can do it is to annul or cancel the tender which is what they did.”
However, to date no explanation has been given to Marathon by Petrojam.